In the million or so NFL mock drafts that were out there, Perrion Winfrey was projected to be a first-round pick by multitudes.
He dropped to the fourth round, which actually kind of fits with the Lake Park High School product’s profile.
“I expected to go early but to be honest, I needed this,” Winfrey said after being selected by the Cleveland Browns late last month. “This was a wake-up call and this gives me all of the fuel and all of the fire I needed to come into the league and dominate. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
A 2018 Lake Park graduate, Winfrey is used to overcoming adversity and making impacts.
When he didn’t qualify academically for a Division I football scholarship coming out of high school, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle enrolled at Iowa Western Community College.
“I told myself I wanted to be the No. 1 junior college player in the nation,” Winfrey said. “I did that.”
With offers from powerhouse programs like Alabama, LSU and Texas on the table after two standout seasons at Iowa Western, he determined Oklahoma was the best fit and had two more big years for the Sooners.
After totaling 11 tackles for loss and adding 5½ sacks last season while being voted All-Big 12 second team for the second straight year, Winfrey received a Senior Bowl invite. He had 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss in the showcase all-star game and was named MVP.
“I told myself I wanted to go to the Senior Bowl and come home with some hardware,” Winfrey said. “I did that.”
The next goal should be obvious.
“Defensive Rookie of the Year,” he said.
That seems like a pretty high reach, but that’s the way Winfrey rolls. And if he does claim the coveted award, the Browns would not be surprised.
“I love his game,” said Dan Saganey, Cleveland’s director of player personnel. “Perrion is a guy who is a great scheme fit for us as far as coming off the ball. He plays with violence. He plays with quickness, speed and power.
“Perrion is an extremely passionate guy. I think the Dawg Pound is going to love him.”
There’s little doubt about that, considering Winfrey’s personality matches his game.
Both aspects took root during his days at Lake Park, which the big lineman still remembers fondly.
“My senior year, me and my homies actually took our school to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years,” said Winfrey, who was a four-year starter for the Lancers. “My game has definitely progressed a lot. If I knew in high school what I know now, I would have gone to the league (NFL) from high school.
“No, I’m just playing. But I’ve definitely learned a lot throughout the years and I’m just excited to learn even more once I get into the league.”
When he does adapt to playing football at the highest level, Winfrey is going to be a star in the NFL. If you don’t believe it, just ask him.
“I’m just one of those guys that truly believes in what I say,” Winfrey said. “I’m a firm believer that if you truly believe in what you put your mind to and you truly believe in what you say out of your mouth, you can accomplish anything you want in this world.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can play in the league. I know the Lord lives within me every single day and I know as long as I put in the hard work I’ve been doing and continue working harder every day, I know anything I have in mind to accomplish, I’ll be able to accomplish. “
As for being drafted by his hometown team, that dream lost its steam before Winfrey moved on from Lake Park.
“I used to be a Bears fan, but Jay Cutler just ruined that,” he said with a laugh. “I had to go get a new team.”